The use of sacramentals is one of the key distinguishing features of Catholics : the taking of Holy Water, the wearing of scapulars . . . and the use of Blessings. The Rituale Romanum contains an enormous selection of Blessings for use on many different occasions; some of them deeply unexpected. One can see the point of the ‘Benedictio Coronarum Sacratissimi Rosarii B.M.V.’ (Blessing of Rosaries), or the ‘Benedictio Vasorum pro sacris Oleis includendis’ (Blessing of Containers for the Holy Oils); but one suspects that the Parish Priest who solemnly turned up at the local Fire Station to perform the ‘Benedictio Machinæ ad Exstinguendum Incendium’ (Blessing of Machines for Extinguishing Fires) would receive an astonished - and probably somewhat guarded - welcome !
However, the use of Blessings generally appears to be on the decline. Holy Water, yes; but it’s a rare Parish nowadays where the PP goes round blessing the houses on Holy Saturday; and there seem to be few where throats are blessed on the feast of S. Blaise, or Chalk on the solemnity of the Epiphany; still less where parishioners bring their cars, aeroplanes, beehives, or electrical generators to receive the Church’s benediction.
I think that is sad. All these – and many other – things which people use in their lives depend, ultimately, on the good providence of Almighty God for their safety and reliability; and as in many cases the well-being of His people depends on these things, it is surely a good thing to seek His active assistance in ensuring that they serve the purpose for which they were created. I, certainly, am a great one for getting everything – possible and, sometimes, only marginally possible – blessed, because I remember that verse of Scripture ‘ask, and you shall receive’.
That is why I was very happy a day or so ago when Rosamundi, having announced to the world in general (in a finely titled post) that she was buying a bicycle (not, please note, a ‘bike’; this is a stately example of fine English engineering, not some flashy bit of foreign rubbish), also mentioned on facebook that she thought she might like to have it blessed.
Out with the Rituale, and . . . ‘Benedictio Vehiculi seu Currus’ : begging that those who ride it may always be defended from every danger, and be shown the way of salvation . . . which seems a sensible invocation for a bicycle which is going to be used to ride from East London to the West End !
I duly passed this on, and very much hope that Rosamundi will in fact have her bicycle blessed : that she will ensure that she takes a picture of this being done : and that she will then post it, to encourage others to make more use of this valuable means of grace.